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The life cycle of star cluster in a tidal field

Gieles, M, Heggie, DC and Zhao, H (2011) The life cycle of star cluster in a tidal field Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 413, 2509-2524 (2011).

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The evolution of globular clusters due to 2-body relaxation results in an outward flow of energy and at some stage all clusters need a central energy source to sustain their evolution. Henon provided the insight that we do not need to know the details of the energy production in order to understand the relaxation-driven evolution of the cluster, at least outside the core. He provided two self-similar solutions for the evolution of clusters based on the view that the cluster as a whole determines the amount of energy that is produced in the core: steady expansion for isolated clusters, and homologous contraction for clusters evaporating in a tidal field. We combine these models: the half-mass radius increases during the first half of the evolution, and decreases in the second half; while the escape rate approaches a constant value set by the tidal field. We refer to these phases as `expansion dominated' and `evaporation dominated'. These simple analytical solutions immediately allow us to construct evolutionary tracks and isochrones in terms of cluster half-mass density, cluster mass and galacto-centric radius. From a comparison to the Milky Way globular clusters we find that roughly 1/3 of them are in the second, evaporation-dominated phase and for these clusters the density inside the half-mass radius varies with the galactocentric distance R as rho_h ~ 1/R^2. The remaining 2/3 are still in the first, expansion-dominated phase and their isochrones follow the environment-independent scaling rho_h ~ M^2; that is, a constant relaxation time-scale. We find substantial agreement between Milky Way globular cluster parameters and the isochrones, which suggests that there is, as Henon suggested, a balance between the flow of energy and the central energy production for almost all globular clusters.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Surrey research (other units)
Authors :
Heggie, DC
Zhao, H
Date : 10 January 2011
DOI : 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2011.18320.x
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 17 May 2017 12:40
Last Modified : 24 Jan 2020 22:38

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